A couple of weeks ago, I shared that we were working through the Beatitudes (found in Matt 5:1-12) this summer at Cornerstone. You can listen to or download the messages from our podcast site or from iTunes.
This Sunday, we moved into looking at vs5 – Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
I love teaching from this beatitude. It contains one of the most significant challenges for our lives (Blessed are the meek…) and one of the most significant promises for our lives (…for they shall inherit the earth).
Most people do not realise that God has promised the earth as a gift to His people, the meek. Actually, it has never registered for some that God has always promised land to His people.
In the beginning, before sin and death had entered our world, God gave the gift of Eden to Adam and Eve:
26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:26-28)
Our first parents were given the land of the Garden, to work it and take care of it (Gen 2:15). God was the great owner, but they were called to be stewards of it, while also being fruitful, multiplying and filling the earth. A fantastic gift and opportunity to participate in this bit of land, this bit of heaven on earth.
But moving along.
After sin and death entered the world, we pick up the story of Abraham (though I could have made some stoppers along the way). It’s only a few chapters down the road, but quite a long distance with regards to time. Interestingly enough, God calls a man, a man to be a blessing to all peoples of the earth (Gen 12:3). And, lo and behold, He again promises a land to Abraham and his descendants (see Gen 15:18-21; 17:8).
Now, I am of the view that God set out certain pointers, foreshadowings, in the old covenant that signify greater things to come in Christ and the new covenant. So, for example, in the old covenant, God’s people were marked by circumcision of the foreskin. But it ultimately pointed to a greater circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (Rom 2:28-29). In the old covenant, there were only a few that were called to enter into the priesthood of the old covenant. But, in Christ, the whole body becomes part of the royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9-10). And so on and so forth we could continue.
I believe the same is true with regards to the gift of land. While the land of Canaan was promised to the descendants of Abraham, I believe that, in Christ, the promise to all God’s people, whom are actually Abraham’s descendants (Rom 4), expands to the whole earth. A renewed earth one day.
And so, this is brought out by the fact that Christ’s words in Matt 5:5 are a restating of Ps 37:11, but within the greater new covenant context. What were those original words of the psalmist?
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Ps 37:11)
And actually, we read at least 5 times in that psalm alone that God’s people will inherit the land.
What land? Well, in the old covenant context, it was the land of Canaan (or, today, we might say Palestine). But, within the new covenant that Christ initiates, we see God’s plan is to gift the whole earth to His people, which really harkens back to the original gift of Eden in Genesis. Not only that, but Paul refocuses the original promise to Abraham in these words:
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. (Rom 4:13)
And, so, I believe a kingdom worldview sees these 5 points as essential to God’s purpose in Christ and the new covenant:
1) The earth belongs to God (i.e. Ps 24:1)
As a side note, when Paul calls Satan the ‘god of this world’ (2 Cor 4:4), it does not mean that he is ruler of the earth. It means that he is only ruler over those ‘of the world’, or those who live in accordance with the ways of the world. The Scripture tells us the earth belongs to God.
2) The earth will be filled with God’s glory (i.e. Hab 2:14 and Is 11:9)
This is God’s design and the final outcome of where we are headed. If the earth is His, then He will ultimately disperse His glory into every corner. And, He is interested in utilising us in doing so even now. But I’ll come to that in just a moment.
3) All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Christ (i.e. Matt 28:18-20)
No, not every knee has bowed. Not every tongue has confessed. But the lordship of Jesus is a reality. It is not scheduled for a later date. It is for now. It’s just that, at a later date, it will be confirmed for those who are not God’s. It is already confirmed to us. Therefore, we can ‘go and make disciples of all nations.’
4) God’s plan is for the meek to inherit the earth (i.e. Matt 5:5)
This is awesome news. Part of the good news, the gospel of the kingdom. That the earth, this earth which God will renew, is our ultimate home. God’s design is not a palatial city in the sky. His plan has always been to see what is in heaven, His rule and reign, come on earth. That is why Jesus asked us to pray such (Matt 6:10)
5) In this age, we proclaim the God news that God is reconciling people to the Himself and making all things new (i.e. 2 Cor 5:16-21; Rev 21:1-5)
Though there is an absolute beauty in seeing human beings reconciled with the Father, their sins forgiven and becoming partakers of the divine (2 Pet 1:3-4), it does not stop there. The good news is that God will redeem and renew creation. And just like our lives of discipleship and holiness point to the age to come, when heaven has fully invaded earth, so does our stewardship of planet earth point to the age to come when all things are completely made new. We taste of it now as new creations. But there is a day yet to come (Rom 8:18-25). And this is part of seeing the glory of the Lord extend into the earth even now (i.e. Hab 2:14). Amazing He asks us to participate in this.
Now, I set a background with all of this to move towards a significant point I want to make in this post.
If Jesus is Lord already, how do we proclaim that today? In the biblical, New Testament times, to say Jesus is Lord (or Jesus is kyrios), this would have been quite significant in a world where Caesar was Lord and Master. It was quite offensive and definitely challenging to Caesar’s authority to say such back then. But, today, that word is kind of taboo. Or it doesn’t mean too much. Lords were of the olden days or masters over slaves.
Yes, our songs sure enough proclaim Jesus is Lord, and we probably say it with our lips. But I’m not sure it means much practically. What does this mean to a world that does not have much grounding in the importance of the lordship of Jesus Christ?
To proclaim the lordship of Jesus could be done in various ways. But, this is where I believe God made the connection for me – To proclaim that Jesus is making all things new is a proclamation of the lordship of Jesus.
He said He is making all things new (Rev 21:5). He already has begun in the new creation life of His people (2 Cor 5:16-17). And I believe His desire is to see His people engaged in living out lives that point to the reality that Jesus is and will make all things new one day.
And, so, to proclaim that Jesus is making all things new, I believe this is part of the good news message that Jesus is kyrios, Jesus is Lord. Well, I suppose if He wasn’t Lord, He wouldn’t have much of a right to make all things new. And, if He wasn’t making all things new, well, I suppose we could question whether He is who He says He is.
But Jesus is Lord and a major pointer to that reality is that He is the One who is making all things new. That is where the connection really came to me about the practicality of Jesus’ lordship.
And, the call is that those who want to inherit the earth as God’s gracious gift, well this is extreme challenge – Blessed are the meek…
The way of the kingdom is so counter to the ways of the world, the ways of our own flesh. One does not receive from God by arrogance, throwing one’s weight around, controlling or being authoritarian. One receives through becoming meek, becoming poor in spirit, dying to self, taking up their cross. You know, emulating the Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus.
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.